Filner asks for state of emergency at border

October 11, 2001|By SAM SCOTT, Special to this newspaper

WASHINGTON (MNS) — Concerned about plummeting commerce along the border, Rep. Bob Filner asked California's governor Wednesday to declare an economic state of emergency in the region.

"Clearly the border communities are suffering," said Filner, D-San Diego. "San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Tecate and Calexico need immediate help."

Filner sent a letter to Gov. Gray Davis after taking trips to San Ysidro and Calexico last weekend. He said people have reported dramatic drops in business as a result of the longer waits at border crossings due to increased security following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"Everybody was saying, ‘What do we do, what do we do?,' " Filner said.

Hildy Carrillo-Rivera, executive director of the Calexico Chamber of Commerce, said the situation is the toughest she has seen.

"Businesses have lost anywhere from as little as 5 percent to as much as 50 percent," she said. "We should have already started with our holiday blitz. It's not happening."


She said she had been in contact with chambers of commerce along the border, with all reporting the same kind of drop.

Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Davis, said a state of emergency can only be declared if a city or county first declares a local emergency — something that has not happened in the border areas.

However, he said the governor would investigate the situation, including whether the border communities should declare a regional state of emergency.

"This (Filner's letter) puts it on radar," Maviglio said. "We will be in touch with local authorities."

A state of emergency is intended to help deal with natural disasters, said Greg Renick, a spokesman for the governor's Office of Emergency Services, so California border areas likely would not qualify.

Filner's letter urged Davis to request that the president declare a national state of emergency for the region, which would send federal funds to border areas.

Filner currently represents the San Diego border area but also will represent Imperial County after redistricting goes into effect in 2003.

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